Relationship Minute: Feelings vs judgments

Contempt is a tricky thing. It’s destructive to the love in a relationship, and yet it can be insidious.

Often, subtle forms of contempt feel perfectly justified—”I’m standing up for myself,” or “I’m just telling it like it is.” But what you may not realize is that you’re standing up for yourself against your partner, putting yourselves in opposition to each other.

So while contempt may seem like the expression of genuine feeling, it’s actually an expression of negative judgment.

Try to practice expressing yourself with feelings and longings that can unite you and your partner, rather than judgments that can divide.

For example:
“It scares me when you drive fast!”
vs
“Why can’t you drive more like I do?”

“I felt embarrassed at the party when you left to chat with your friends and I didn’t have anyone to talk to.”
vs
“I would never abandon you like that!”

“The way you’re reacting is really unexpected for me. Can you tell me more about what’s going on?”
vs
“You need help.”

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.